AITOR Karanka accused his Middlesbrough players of undervaluing Arsenal’s quality in their 2-0 FA Cup fifth round defeat yesterday.
The Gunners dominated Boro, Olivier Giroud’s two goals in quick succession in the first-half enough to seal the cup holders’ passage into the quarter-finals.
Having beaten Manchester City in the previous round and taken Liverpool to penalties in the League Cup earlier in the season, Boro’s boss believed that his players had allowed complacency to creep into their game.
“No, no,” he retorted, visibly frustrated, when asked if it was the game he expected.
“I knew it was going to be very difficult but I couldn’t imagine that we were going to make the mistakes like we made.
“They thought that it was going to be easier because they played very, very well against Man City and Liverpool and they thought that it would another game like Man City.
“It’s difficult to beat Arsenal playing in your best way so imagine if you are making mistakes like we did with the second ball or the way that we played in the first-half especially.
“Two minutes in I could feel that we weren’t playing in the way that we normally play.
“We didn’t play with the intensity we normally play with.
“We were disorganised and when you go to the pitch to play against Arsenal are you are not 100 per cent then this kind of thing can happen.”
While irate with his own team’s display, Karanka says that the difficult afternoon represents a challenge for Boro to return to their own standards and match the class of their opponents.
He carried on: “We had a bad day against Arsenal but it’s no points (lost or won in the league) so we have to learn.
“It will be a wake-up call again. We have to take the positives and negative things from the game and from the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup.
“I think we are going to improve and we have two months in front that are very important for us.”
And, of course, the aim is to make visits to stadia like the Emirates as part of the league schedule and not just cup ties.
“The FA Cup has now passed and we have a lot of good memories from it but now the main thing is the league,” he said.
“The best thing we can take from this experience is to play in this stadium so it’s amazing to play at Anfield, the Etihad and the Emirates.”
“We want to play here every season.”